YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon (AP) — Condoms are not the answer to Africa’s fight against H.I.V., Pope Benedict XVI said Tuesday as he began a weeklong trip to the continent. It was the pope’s first explicit statement on an issue that has divided even clergy working with AIDS patients.
Benedict arrived in Yaoundé, Cameroon’s capital, on Tuesday afternoon, greeted by a crowd of people waving flags and snapping cameras. The visit is his first pilgrimage to Africa as pope.
In his four years as pope, Benedict had never directly addressed condom use, although his position is not new. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, often said that sexual abstinence, not condoms, was the best way to prevent the spread of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.
“You can’t resolve it with the distribution of condoms,” the pope told reporters aboard the plane heading to Yaoundé. “On the contrary, it increases the problem.”
The pope said a responsible and moral attitude toward sex would help fight the disease.
The Roman Catholic Church rejects the use of condoms as part of its overall teaching against artificial contraception. Senior Vatican officials have advocated fidelity in marriage and abstinence from premarital sex as crucial weapons in the fight against AIDS.
About 22 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with H.I.V., according to Unaids, a United Nations agency. In 2007, three-quarters of all AIDS deaths worldwide were in the region, as well as two-thirds of all people living with H.I.V.
Rebecca Hodes of the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa said that if the pope were serious about preventing H.I.V. infections, then he would focus on promoting wide access to condoms and spreading information on how best to use them.
“Instead, his opposition to condoms conveys that religious dogma is more important to him than the lives of Africans,” said Ms. Hodes, the campaign’s director of policy, communication and research.
Africa is the fastest-growing region for the Catholic Church, though Catholicism competes with Islam and evangelical churches.
Yeah. Clearly the effective way to fight aids is to ignore the problem and just tell people not to have sex. Very realistic. I applaud the Church for another situation well handled.
Not around so much now that school's started
"Live a good life.
If there are gods and they are just,
then they will not care how devout you have been,
but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by.
If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them.
If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life
that will live on in the memories of your loved ones."